"THE SOUND OF MUSIC FAMILY SCRAPBOOK," by Fred Bronson, Applause Theatre and Cinema Books, $45, 96 pages (nf).
Actress Charmian Carr slipped and crashed through the glass windows of the gazebo set while filming "The Sound of Music," and landed in a pile of glass shards. Terrified of water, Kym Karath had to be rescued by an on-shore lifeguard while filming the famous scene in which the rowboat capsized. Christopher Plummer would informally play the piano in the cast members’ hotel lobby.
Fans of the much-beloved movie will recognize that Carr suffered an ankle injury as her character Liesl leaped from one gazebo bench to another while filming “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” Karath, who played Gretl, nearly drowned during the final sequence of the “Do-Re-Mi” montage. And Plummer was the off-set piano player while he was in the Salzburg, Austria, hotel to portray the role of Captain Georg von Trapp.
Even if “The Sound of Music” is not one of your favorite things, there’s still much to enjoy in “The Sound of Music Family Scrapbook,” which has been lovingly assembled by the seven child actors playing the von Trapp children.
Only three of the youngsters — Nicholas Hammond (Friedrich), Angela Cartwright (Brigitta) and Karath (Gretl) — had any professional experience when famed director Robert Wise cast the actors in early 1964. It was a life-altering opportunity that led to cinematic immortality in the 1965 Oscar-winning musical.
The seven actors are as close today as they were while in production filming the exterior scenes in Salzburg and on the interior sets on a sound stage at 20th Century-Fox in Los Angeles. A decade ago they rushed to be at the side of Heather Menzies (Louisa) when her husband, actor Robert Urich, died of cancer. Menzies is also the godmother to Karath’s 20-year-old son, Eric, who has special needs.
During filming the children were accompanied by their mothers, who meticulously saved drawings and off-camera photos — the items that make this “scrapbook” required reading for any lover of movie musicals, and especially this one. An accompanying DVD, in a brown paper package tied up with (faux) strings, contains silent home movies taken while filming in Austria. A variety of memento replicas are inserted into page sleeve pockets, from a miniature one-sheet and a reproduction of the round-trip Pan Am airline ticket used by Debbie Turner (Marta) to fly to Austria.
One intimate glimpse is related by Karath. Alan Callow, the son of assistant director Reggie Callow, was the man who jumped in to rescue her as the rowboat capsized. Karath’s 21-year-old sister, Francie, was on set to witness Callow rescuing her, and the two later married.
Amid the 20 chapters detailing the movie’s filming are chapters from each of the seven actors with their reminiscences and updating readers on their lives. The other chapters were written by Fred Bronson, author of the weekly Chart Beat column in Billboard magazine.
“Family Scrapbook” is a warmly constructed “where are they now?” compilation, along with a thoroughly entertaining look at a movie masterpiece in the making from the perspective of its young stars.